Weekend backpacks are a new program of Area Interfaith Outreach (AIO) which feeds hungry Knox County families of all ages and gives emergency assistance with heat and other necessities. Located in Rockland, the pantry is open three mornings every week, and helps 35 to 40 households each day.
You can follow AIO’s primary mission at the food pantry by checking that website, too - www.aiofoodpantry.org or on Facebook.
Volunteers from all those schools join other enthusiastic food bag packers from the general community on our assembly lines on Thursday mornings (at Nativity Lutheran Church on Old County Road, Rockport). When the bags for their schools are filled and loaded in crates for carrying, they haul them to the schools for distribution on Fridays. On the next packing day they bring the empty crates back and the cycle continues.
It works! Due to the generosity of the midcoast community, when school breakfasts and lunches aren’t available to all those children on weekends, they know they’ll be fed.
We can’t stop now! This school year, 2016-2017, by better informing parents who need this help but have not signed up, we can increase the number of children receiving food. And maybe we can add the other elementary schools in Knox County.
82 wonderful people help assemble the food bags during the school year, at least 25 every Thursday.
Last year over the holidays, kind people remembered our backpack kids and found creative ways to add surprises to the food bags they got on the days before Christmas vacation.
· Elise Huff and her staff at the Coastal Children’s Museum in Rockland offered Free Admission passes for one child and one adult – stapled to little bags of M&Ms. 200 of them!
· Jenn Ross-Boshes of Beauty Mark in Camden asked her clients to bring in stocking stuffers for our kids. It was two huge bags of every sort of cute thing imaginable.
· Joan Vargus, the head of the U.S. Marines’ Toys for Tots effort here (which shared the Lutheran church basement with us) offered more stocking stuffers: crayons, markers, beanie babies….
Packing was great fun those days. All of us felt even more like Santa’s elves.
Other ideas are always welcome!
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